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Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques Hardcover – October 2, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“…snappily written homage to the underrated flavor…”—7x7 Magazine

“If only you could lick the pages of this slim, one-subject volume.”—Tampa Bay Times 

About the Author

Shauna Sever is the author of Marshmallow Madness! (Quirk, 2011). She writes the popular dessert blog Piece of Cake and is a host and reporter for food-related television. Her work has been published in O Magazine, Daily Candy, Huffington Post Food, Working Mother, Food52, and more. She also runs Bake Sale Bakery, a dessert catering business in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and daughter.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159474596X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745966
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shauna Sever-cookbook author, baking blogger, television host, and mom of two-is The Next Door Baker. With her easy, fun, and accessible approach to baking, Shauna gives you the know-how to pull together simple, crave-worthy recipes that are good for the soul and get people talking.

With two successful cookbooks in print ("Marshmallow Madness!" and "Pure Vanilla") and "Real Sweet" to be published by HarperCollins in Spring 2015; Piece of Cake, an award-winning baking blog; numerous television and radio appearances; and recipes and expert baking tips featured in publications like O Magazine, USA Weekend, Woman's World, Fine Cooking, and more, Shauna is matching her skills and her passion to make baking accessible to everyone.

As a home baking expert, she's appeared on Food Network, Better TV, Good Day L.A., WGN Chicago, and many more. Her baking-related videos for outlets such as, eHowFood, and Kin Eats have attracted more than 1 million YouTube views. She currently pops into more than 20 million homes each week as the host of "Cooking Light" on Portico TV.

Before pursuing a career in food, Shauna graduated with a degree in Journalism from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. After working as a television host and entertainment correspondent for the likes of Extra, TV Guide Network, and Reelz Channel and interviewing countless celebrities on the red carpet and beyond, she followed her sweet tooth into the world of baking and desserts. Soon after, she launched her blog and became a recipe writer for a Michelin-starred chef, and continued on as a TV host for food-related segments.

When not writing, baking, or spending time with her husband and their little girl and baby boy, Shauna can be found hunting for great pastries and kitchen gadgetry, and running the hills of San Francisco. She covets bowls that nest, cookbooks old and new, hot coffee and cold cocktails, laughing so hard that no sound comes out, and singing loudly to classic rock.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Culinary_Cam on October 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I will never underestimate the magic of vanilla again. We use the term 'vanilla' derogatorily, to mean plain, boring, ordinary. How completely misguided! Having spent the last week scraping the caviar out of the beans, infusing syrups, steeping pods, and immersing vanilla in salts and sugars, I see vanilla for the complex, exotic, and intriguing ingredient that it is. And, as Shauna writes, "It's high time to catapult this delicious ingredient into the superstar stratosphere where she so deserves to be!"

Before launching into her original recipes, Shauna encapsulates an almost 400-year history of the vanilla bean into nine points, taking the reader from the Aztecs conquering the Totonac Indians of Mexico in 1519 to Thomas Jefferson, then the U.S. ambassador to France, carrying a bundle of beans home to Monticello in 1789. In 1841 the 12-year-old son of a slave devised a way of hand-pollinating vanilla orchids; his process is still employed today.

She details the various forms of vanilla - yes, you can get it in more than just beans and extracts - provides tasting notes, and fields FAQs: Why is vanilla so expensive? How do I store vanilla? And what is French vanilla?

Her writing is accessible, her directions clear, and her recipes inspiring. I find this book to be pure inspiration. I'm looking forward to trying her Tangy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta and will certainly be toasting with a Vanilla Martini at some time in the near future.

If you want to learn more about vanilla and get inspired in the kitchen, check out Shauna Sever's Pure Vanilla. It's truly delicious!
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By P. Woodland TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that celebrates chocolate's alter-ego. As I have grown older I have come to appreciate the taste of vanilla. Good vanilla. In fact, I keep vanilla beans in my freezer so I always have them on hand. I make my own vanilla extract because it's cheaper and far, far better than the stuff you buy in the store. The only thing this book used that I didn't have on hand was vanilla paste and you can bet your last bean that I'm going to buy some the next time I place my big flour order. I am very intrigued...

For bakers that don't have a ready supply of beans on hand there is a conversion chart so you can still indulge in the delicious recipes using pure vanilla extract which is readily available in stores. Please, PLEASE use PURE extract. The artificial stuff will just ruin a good recipe and when your treat is all about the vanilla you want the flavor to be true. It is worth the money to buy as good as you can afford so that your baked goods sing with real vanilla flavor.

The book is broken down into sensible chapters with recipes therein using all of the vanilla products. Ms. Sever first explains vanilla, its origins and the reasonings behind using each vanilla enhancement. The recipes are well thought out and easy to follow. I can see myself turning to this book over and over again for baked goods to complement chocolate offerings on dessert buffets. It's a great book to add to a baker's cookbook library.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Austen Fan on March 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Twinkie Bundt Cake is the only reason you need to buy this book until you try Vanilla Cloud Cake and Triple Vanilla Pound Cake, Big soft frosted vanilla Sugar Cookies, salted vanilla chip cookies.Okay so you get the picture; I am working my way through the baking chapters and I haven't found a thing to complain about. The recipes are easy to reproduce and the results are flawless. This is a well writen and informative source on everything you ever wanted to know about vanilla.
Thank you Matt from Baked Bakery for the recommendation.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By djp on November 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As everyone can see, I purchased this book ("verified Purchase"), and while I see that it does not seem to be a very popular opinion, I was unimpressed with it. For me personally, I buy a cookbook for recipes ONLY. I'm an avid reader but I don't buy cookbooks for their literary value or how cute the pictures are or how wonderful or interesting the author is or how fabulous the recipes look (a large number of the positive reviews seem to focus on these things). I buy them solely and exclusively for the quality of the recipes. This is just me and what I like (although I believe im not alone in this regard). I tried three different and varied recipes from this book. It is not, as cook books go, a large book, so I believe that three recipes would clearly give me an idea if the recipes met my taste. I found all three recipes to be on the bland side, one of the three had an unusual texture and none were rich in flavor or even flavorful. For me (and this is just me) vanilla alone simply doesn't carry the flavor in these recipe's. I must admit though that I have had a few vanilla-alone baked goods in my life that were outstanding, however, the three items in this book I tried did not replicate those experiences. Another reason I purchased this book because of all the positive reviews but frankly the recipes don't taste half as good as the pictures would lead you to believe. This is a wonderful coffee table book, but if your looking for outstanding vanilla recipes ...look elsewhere. For those who disagree.... enjoy the book and happy baking.
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